Helping Catholic Church Victims Obtain Civil Justice
If you, your child, or a loved one has suffered from sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic Church employee or leader, you may have standing to bring a claim for compensation against the individual and the church in addition to any criminal charges. Contact the experienced and compassionate St. Matthews Catholic Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Strom Law Firm today.
Anybody who preys upon the least vulnerable among us, the children who need our protection, should pay the price, both criminally and financially. Child sexual abuse is an unimaginably heartbreaking act, especially when committed by men of the cloth. Too often, such religious leaders have committed these heinous acts. These individuals and the Catholic Church should be protecting these children from any sort of harm, including sexual abuse. When the church and individual officials have failed to protect children from sexual abuse, they should be held accountable.
What Constitutes Child Sexual Abuse?
Legally, ethically, and morally, children are unable to consent to sexual activity. Anybody who commits any sort of sexual act to a child is a criminal. The law offers multiple ways of holding such behavior accountable. One such accountability is provided by criminal law, and results in charges being pressed against the offender. If convicted, such a process would likely end with the predator spending a significant amount of time in prison.
In addition to criminal charges, a victim may file a civil lawsuit against a sexual predator and seek financial compensation for the suffering endured by that person. The attorneys at Strom Law Firm excel at representing clients in vulnerable situations and are here to help your family navigate this difficult process.
Child sexual abuse presents itself by a variety of inappropriate and disgusting acts, and it does not have to be physical in nature:
- Digital communications, like sharing sexual photos over the internet
- Sex trafficking of children
- Sexual intercourse and other sexual acts
- Exposure of private parts to a minor
- Any possession, distribution, or creation of child pornography
- Masturbation by or in front of a child
Sexual predators know that children are vulnerable, and will convince them to keep the abuse a secret from parents and others of authority. Sexual predators within the church may even convince the child that it is their duty to keep it a secret. Some signs to keep an eye out for are:
- Sudden changes to your child’s genital area or anus – Any sort of symptoms that might be consistent with sexually transmitted diseases (STD), bleeding, or complaints of pain.
- Changes in behavior – Of course, mood swings among children and teenagers are common, but keep an eye out for significant changes in behavior such as self-harm, starting fires, changes in appetite accompanied by weight loss or weight gain, or running away.
- Increasingly poor hygiene – If your child is refusing to shower or wear clean clothes, it may be a sign that something more is going on.
Responsible Parties for Priest Abuse Injuries
As is anybody, priests are responsible for their own actions, including sexual abuse of children and others. They choose to take advantage of vulnerable children by using the Catholic Church’s reputation. This sort of predatory behavior was mostly practiced against children too young to defend themselves, and too trusting to know anything was wrong.
The Catholic Church and Bishops and Clergy
The Catholic Church and its officials allowed the culture of secretive abuse to develop and expand within the church. Such officials had the responsibility to take precautions to keep sexual abuse. Some church officials chose to ignore allegations of abuse, while others chose to simply send accused priests to other diocese, where those priests would sometimes strike again. There have been numerous opportunities over the years for the Church to stop this behavior and punish those accountable. Time and time again, they chose not to act.
Organizations Often Deny, Ignore, or Cover-Up Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse by Priests
Sadly, a concerted effort was undertaken by the Catholic Church to cover up the abuse of children as young as 4 years old by its priests and other officials. The unique relationship between the abused, their family, and the church meant that it was far too easy for the church to hide this behavior.
While often worrying about their Church’s reputation or the company’s bottom line, no organization is justified in covering child sex abuse. If you have been victimized by a child sex predator, no matter your current age, contact a sexual abuse attorney today, and we will examine all of your options and protect your reputation.
South Carolina Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse Cases
In basic terms, a statute of limitations is a time limit placed on when a party is allowed to file a lawsuit. Many factors can go into determining at what point the time limit set by a statute of limitations begins to count. Child sex abuse victims must file a lawsuit by whichever is the later of these two dates:
- Six years after the victim’s 21st birthday
- Three years after the victim realizes that an injury was caused by the abuse
This statute of limitations recognizes the unique concerns and realities surrounding sexual abuse by priests and other church officials. It can take years to discover an injury that is mentally or physically related to child sex abuse. Memories of sexual abuse are, many times, suppressed by the victim as a way to cope with their suffering. Sometimes, victims do not fully remember the sexual abuse suffered at their abuser’s hands until decades after the attacks. Due to the above described South Carolina statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, a lawsuit might be filed at any point over the course of a victim’s life.
If the time comes that you are ready to hold your Catholic Church sexual abuser accountable, no matter your age, contact Strom Law Firm today. We will fight to hold the abuser and the church accountable.
You Are Likely Not the Abuser Priest’s Only Victim
If you happen to be the only victim of your predator, you will not be their last without intervention. Sexual predator priests often take advantage of multiple vulnerable children multiple times. There is likely someone who is suffering from the pain caused by your abuser’s actions, just like you.
There are resources available to help Catholic Church sex abuse victims. RAINN is an organization that exists for this purpose. RAINN offers a hotline for abuse victims to call and seek help and information.
Because sexual predators rarely strike only once, it is important to hold them and their organizations accountable as quickly as possible to prevent further abuse of additional victims. Contact a St. Matthews Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Lawyer at Strom Law Firm today to help you deal with all the process of holding your abuser accountable. Financial compensation can only go so far in healing your wounds, but our hope is that our support and encouragement will provide you with some healing.
We Are Here to Help Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Survivors
If you, your child, or another loved one was abused by a priest or other church official, we are here with the resources and experience to hold these sexual predators accountable. We are ready to fight to the finish with any religious organization if it is choosing to cover up sexual abuse, no matter the size.
If you or a loved one are being abused or were abused as a child in St. Matthews or anywhere else across South Carolina, contact us. We offer free case evaluations and we do not collect a fee unless we recover for you. Contact the St. Matthews Catholic Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Strom Law Firm by calling 803-252-4800 and find out if we are able to help you.